Stuart Madnick, the John Norris Maguire Professor of Information Technology and Engineering Systems, has owned Langley Castle in England since 1985. Earlier this year, he acquired the title associated with the property: Baron of Langley.
Madnick had always wanted to reunite the barony with the castle, which is located in Northumberland, Northeast England, on the Scottish border. Ever since he purchased the 14th-century castle, Madnick's goal has been to continue its restoration and preserve its history. Madnick and his wife, Yvonne, updated the castle and transformed it into an award-winning, luxurious hotel and restaurant. The seven-foot-thick stone walls, as well as the towers and turrets, have remained intact over the centuries, giving an authentic medieval aura to the hotel.
According to Madnick, the barony of Langley dates back about 800 years, and the castle was the center of the barony for many years. The crown seized both the title and the castle in the 18th century, after the two previous barons were beheaded. The castle remained unoccupied until 1882, when a local historian and sheriff, Cadwallader Bates, bought and restored much of it.
After Madnick purchased Langley, he wondered about the barony title, but for a while no one knew the status. "It was seized 300 years ago, but I wanted to reunite the two pieces," he explains. Although he now finally has the title, Madnick points out that he is not known as "Baron Madnick." He explains that there are two types of titles in England: hereditary titles and manoral titles. Since his title is related to his status as a property-owner, the official title is Stuart Madnick, Baron of Langley.
Madnick lives in the Boston area but runs his business with the help of 50 full- and part-time employees. He visits the castle about three or four times per year to check in on the establishment. He says that the locals seem to have responded favorably to their new baron. "There haven't been any suggestions of a beheading," he says.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 31, 2007 (download PDF).